While the world’s most advanced robots are still trying to master stairs (and karate), there will come a time when many jobs currently held by humans are done by robot workers. Quartz met four robots at the RoboUniverse conference in New York earlier this month that are already doing some jobs that previously would have been done by humans.
Every other assembly line worker
Rethink Robotics’ Baxter robot can be programmed to perform a range of complex manual tasks on the assembly line. Rather like a small child or a dog, someone can show Baxter how to do a task and then it will copy the actions. There could soon be a future where the only humans needed on the factory floor are the ones who teach the robots to complete tasks—until the robots can teach themselves. Rethink told Quartz its next generation robot, called Sawyer, will take up less space and won’t have such a disinterested look on its face.
Teacher and personal trainer
RoboKind’s Milo robot has been helping kids with autism understand social cues and emotions at schools around the US. Richard Margolin, RoboKind’s engineering director, told Quartz that Milo can also be used to teach yoga classes, and is being tested out for use in elderly care. Milo has run classes in senior homes, and successfully been used to help the elderly stay engaged and sharp, Margolin said.
Orchard Supply Hardware’s OSHBot can lead customers to any item in the store, and never forgets where anything is. Customers can also show OSHBot an item, like a screw, and ask where they can find more, and the R2-D2-like robot will escort you to their location. It can also learn to speak multiple languages, which most clerks can’t do, at least without going back to school.
Other robots’ jobs
Robots themselves aren’t even safe from the chopping block. The Ragnar Robot is a reprogrammable robot from Blue Workforce that can be used by small businesses to do pretty much whatever they need. Blue Workforce’s CEO Preben Hjørnet told Quartz that the Ragnar could be 3D printing out surfboards in the morning, and then reconfigured to stock them on the shelves of a surf shop in the afternoon. Watch out Baxter: The Ragnar is coming for you.